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Found 13 results

  1. Really interesting structure for the New Year Giant Series this year as they loaded up two cards in 1/7 and this 1/17 show relatively big but all of the huge stuff in planning was saved for the Excite Series in February. Big contrast to what they have done the past few years. We have also seen TC matches reduced in length with the Vader run but now it floats over to tags. This was a 14 minute match that had a brisk pace and never really could wear out its welcome due to the length. It was also the semi-main of a card that is fairly perplexing with No Fear in a throwaway six man. I was glad to see Taue have a spirited performance here after giving close to nothing in the 1/2 tag. The writing is one the wall with the hierarchy though as he takes the pinfall pretty easily here. I would have liked to have seen a bit more dissension in the Akiyama and Misawa team leading to their match next month. It also looked clear here that a big Vader vs. Akiyama match was being teased. Stuff seems to be a little all over the place a the moment All Japan booking wise and knowing the internal struggle, that makes a lot of sense. This was a good but ultimately inconsequential tag match that is good to see in retrospect for the tinkering of the overall structure and what a semi main tag match in AJ can contain. ***1/4
  2. This is quite the odd match. The opening is worked in a real classical New Japan sort of way from the 1980's and 1990's. Misawa takes it to the mat at first to prove he can do that, Hase does the same with a strike exchange but those are the only two bits of contested action in the first fifteen minutes. The rest of the time results around Hase working the arm of Misawa. I have to say that I never tired of watching this due to Hase mixing things up. Misawa isn't someone that I think of as a great facial seller but he did well here. I can see this extended sequence testing the patience limits of many but it felt so unique that I remained invested. MIsawa doesn't look as much hurt as frustrated. Hase has a distinct game plan and refuses to betray it up until the last few minutes of the match where he deserts it to start throwing bombs. Misawa using the elbow can be seen as no selling the work that was invested into it and that is a valid criticism but I do usually give Misawa a pass on those things based on the character work he had built up over the ten previous years. Misawa is the sheriff in town and he will rely on what got him in charge in the first place until it betrays him. I also thought that Hase mainly performing stretches and more submission based work on the arm made it plausible that Misawa could still use it to effectiveness in the latter stages of the match. Hase put his all into this game plan and it didn't work out in the end. I didn't think this was a classic by any means, but it felt more refreshing and purposeful than the Hase vs. Kawada match from the 99 Dome show. This also worked better after seeing the spirited war between Akiyama and Takayama. ***
  3. With this and the previous six man, we essentially have all of the big focal points of AJ coming into 2000 besides Vader and Kawada. Kikuchi and Kakihara have a more shooty opening than the matwork in the previous six man. Action seems to start earlier in this one with Kakihara busting a suplex onto the floor and a kick right to the face of a wounded Kikuchi. After some meandering, Misawa comes in vs. Smith. Smith is a weird trajectory as he was doing pretty well in the gaijin role in 98-2000, then the NOAH split happens and his relevance falls off. He gets in some pretty good arm work on Misawa. Misawa does a nice diving headbutt off the second rope to Taue and then rolls through. Misawa looks good in the early portions of this match not taking the night off at all. Smith continues to do some arm work this time on Ogawa when he gets tagged in. Match takes more of a structure when Kikuchi starts to get worked over. Kakihara is taking the lion’s work for his team with Misawa being a nice compliment. Misawa and Taue have their hottest exchange of the match as the match nears its conclusion. Kakihara also is able to hit a nice flurry on Taue. Ogawa and Smith gives way to Ogawa and Kikuchi with Misawa chipping in again for his team. A nice spot does happen where Kikuchi rolls through the first drop toe hold attempt of Ogawa before he hits the second. Misawa also hasn’t thrown out hardly any of his big time offense showing restraint. He pins Kikuchi with a frog splash and running elbow smash. This match had some nice moments but also felt meandering for much of the time. I also thought both Taue and Ogawa were essentially non factors and those are two guys that I really like. **1/2
  4. I am really starting to really like these meat and potato AJPW tags involving No Fear. They are showing a shift in the style but just be a brutalizing force. This is making Misawa show some aggression that feels different than his mano y mano contests vs. Kobashi and the long term "weve been here before" rivalry vs. Kawada. Honda here is the outlier and the star as he really takes it to both members of No Fear and works the meat of the match. It does seem like No Fear needs some type of better double team finish as they put away Honda here with a series of leg drops and elbows. ***1/4
  5. A weird start here where it looks like Doc is going to shoot in on Misawa. Every one clears out and away we go. I liked Doc taking a cheap shot at Ogawa on the apron. Scorpio and Misawa have a pretty basic wrestling sequence. Doc is really the spark here being a complete dick to Ogawa on the outside. It is nice to see Doc this motivated in 2000 as he does an impressive press slam to Ogawa lifting him up multiple times. It is really neat to see sleazy Ogawa at this point in time as sympathetic FIP. Scorpio’s flashy moves are also working in this environment against Misawa. Misawa ends up getting worked over a good bit here and we have a double heat sequence in this tag. Scorpio gets too flashy on a twisting legdrop and Ogawa is tagged back in. Scorpio is able to hit a huge moonsault that Misawa is forced to break up the pin with. All four guys are going after it now. Misawa and Ogawa start working together and make their comeback and it feels well earned. Scorpio kicks out of Ogawa’s back suplex but falls to the Tiger Driver and back suplex combo. I really dug this one and may be overrating it but it really displayed the short tag structure with a cohesive storyline element. Afterwards, Doc and Scorp fire away again. This is the best Doc has looked in years. ****
  6. These two after the Taue Triple Crown win in 96 had sort of a weird feud against each other. We get about 75% of this match and the best way I can describe it is it is worked like a Raw workrate match. The work is really good and logical between these two but there is certainly the indication of an extra gear that neither man is reaching into. Taue has some early success but gets greedy on the apron and that opens up Misawa for his big comeback. Misawa use of finishers is always smartly done as he goes with the Tiger Driver for the close nearfall and running forearm here to put away Taue. ***1/4 (6.3 )
  7. Amazing match and a great example of how underrated Ogawa is as a worker, he gets so much out of the simplest holds, creating struggle over them and always finding new ways to gain advantage, there are also neat details like Ogawa grabbing Misawa's hair to escape a headlock and MIsawa getting desperate after Ogawa dominated with him holds in the beginning and grabbing Ogawa's hair while locked in a Facelock, eventually they do more conventional All Japan action, the brawling here was neat, both Ogawa's punches and Misawa's Elbows looked great and Ogawa sold like he was being decapitated (which was very close to what was going on) and there were a couple of amazing All Japan kung-fu sequences of insane counters and they played up the difference in their positions in All Japan's hierarchy by being relatively reserved with nearfalls, the crowd didn't buy Ogawa as a threat but watching him bust out all sorts of wacky pinning combinations was amusing. Would probably have this over ****.
  8. Once again, a melancholy match to watch knowing what is directly looming. Putting aside those emotions, this was another fun encounter. This was probably the most seemless and best Ikeda has looked in an AJ ring and him and Kawada especially have a lot of beef in this match. Check out the lariat that Kawada gives him in the latter stages that is absolutely brutal. Misawa and Kawada have a good bit of interaction and it is always fun to watch these two mix it up between the wrestling, strikes and some of their signature bombs. Taue also takes it Misawa quite a bit and is really grumpy in this one. Final even ends up with Inoue and Ogawa which is two junior members but it felt like they had mixed it up well enough that a pin could be costly. Ogawa ends up putting him away with a back suplex. ***1/2
  9. Mossman will be very interesting to track throughout the decade. I really enjoyed this match. Ogawa/Misawa got overwhelmed in the early going and had to play catchup for most of the match. The arm work done to Ogawa was especially inspiring with frequent tags between Akiyama and Mossman. Eventurally the finishing run occurs and it is also exciting with nearfalls and Ogawa having to result to some of his nefarious tactics out of necessity instead of just for the hell of it. ***1/2
  10. Life comes at you fast. A good but typical six man from these guys that will be raised when you think about the fact that this is the second to last time ever that Kobashi and Kawada stepped into the ring against one another. Even Misawa and Kawada only have a handful of these on tape. That is what made me cherish every interaction here a little more. Beyond that, Fuchi was really game and as someone that was forced to step into a more prominent role with the wake of the exodus that is looming, it was really nice to see him already bringing his working boots pre split. Goodbye 1990's All Japan. ***1/2
  11. A lot to unpack here with this special Baba memorial six man. Taue comes out wearing a Baba esque robe, Omori gets a big marquee spot, we get a rare appearance of Hansen at this point, and Misawa is teaming with Burning! After a little table setting with Omori in there, he tags out to Hansen and Hansen and Kobashi going after each other and it is great. Kobashi isn’t really the young punk that Hansen loved bullying around for so long so it was refreshing to see this strike exchange with Kobashi now being easily higher on the overall hierarchy in the promotion. Omori continues to be the person that is toughest to figure out in the promotion. They clearly have big plans for him and he doesn’t look awful when is without Takayama but in this match he did stick out to me as pretty obviously having the least amount of heat. I did like him taking the aggression to Jun on the outside to really hone in the focus on Akiyama for his squad. Omori gets worked over for a while and nothing much of note happens until Kobashi takes him to the outside and there is a spirited exchange with Hansen coming over for the save. This leads to the ending run with everything being ramped up a bit and Taue and Akiyama having a good closing sequence vs. each other. Misawa in January is an interesting figure as he has been kind of an overload that is prominent but hasn’t really made his move yet for the year. This match exemplifies that as Burning does the vast majority of the work. Omori looks good in closing stretch with his missile dropkick and dragon suplex. Kobashi catches him in a great half suplex and the Exploder, Tiger Mask and Burning lariat combo put Omori away. Fun for a novelty aspect but the action here was pretty pedestrian for All Japan standards. ***